Celebrating the arrival of a baby is a custom that many new parents eagerly anticipate. Gathering with loved ones, receiving nursery gifts, and sharing stories are all time honored ways of helping a family prepare for its new member. However, some parents need or want to take a different approach. Maybe it's not your first baby, you live a distance from your family and friends, or you just want to try something fresh! Consider these ideas in addition to or in place of a traditional shower.
Hold a Blessingway
Defined as "a sacred pre-birth ceremony that has traditionally been performed by Navajo people, and celebrates a woman's rite of passage into motherhood", a Blessingway is focused on nurturing and preparing the expectant mother for her new role. Food and pampering rituals (such as hand massage) are often included and the sharing of wisdom and inspiration from guests is emphasized. Attendees often bring or use the event time to make keepsakes to encourage the mother to be during labor and remind her that she is loved. An example would be each guest painting a small canvas flag that can later be strung into a banner for the home or labor room. You can find more suggestions for your own Blessingway here or by talking to your doula.
Have a feast
This is a great way to host a gathering while skipping the usual fuss and bother of a traditional shower. Invite your crew to drop in for a group meal and good company. The price of admittance? A freezer meal or gift card to a takeout restaurant. You can never prepare enough food to have on hand during the early weeks with a newborn.
Create a 'registry' for acts of service
Appoint a close friend or relative to serve as the coordinator for your registry. Sit down with him or her and identify areas where you may need help after the baby arrives, then create a list of tasks- babysitting older children for a few hours, bringing dinner, picking up groceries, doing a few loads of laundry, walking the dog, etc. The list can then be emailed out to anyone that you would normally invite to your baby shower. Many people love to help but aren't really sure what needs to be done.
Host an event honoring Dad
It's true that mothers today often don't get the support they need but often fathers get even less. Plan a special event for Dad in a setting where he'll be comfortable. A backyard BBQ, an organized outing to a sporting event, or a small event at a coffee house often work well. Guests could chip in together to give a baby carrier- it's a great way to encourage closeness between father and baby. Another good group gift is an extra car seat or base. Switching the seat between cars every day or two is a hassle for some families. Books promote interaction and are always appreciated.
Have a sibling shower
Whether it's your second child or your fifth, you're probably wondering how your older children will handle this transition. Encourage them to be excited for the new baby's arrival and involved in his or her care! Dedicate an afternoon for a "sibling shower". Invite people your children are close with to come over for a visit and bring gifts to occupy the kids during those times when the baby needs constant attention- books, arts and crafts projects, or small building block sets are a few options. Guests could also bring baby care items that will be specifically for the sibling to use when helping with the baby or a gift card so that older kids can be involved in choosing something the baby will need.
However you choose to celebrate, have fun and cherish this time of welcoming a new family member!